To disclose or not to disclose: the moral complexities of HIV status disclosure in southern Africa

  • Christopher A.B. Zigira


Residual mass ignorance and various degrees of denial that still surround HIV/AIDS and the associated stigma make it difficult for people either suffering or suspected to be suffering from the opportunistic infections related with HIV to go for testing and when they do to accept and disclose their status and seek the necessary psychosocial and medical support. Consequently there are people, some of whom are in lifelong marital relationship, who have (either due to lack of testing or disclosure of their seropositivity) passed on the virus to their partners and unwittingly to some of their children and thereby contributed to the geometric progression in the onward march of HIV pandemic. As a result, there has been close to a tenfold increase in the rate of infection in Swaziland, within the most productive segment of population, from 3.9 percent in 1992 to 38.6 percent in 2003, predominantly due to lack of testing and disclosure of one’s HIV-status, which factor (in combination with other variables) has exacerbated the problem of HIV/AIDS. This paper examines the moral complexities of HIV seropositive status disclosure and argues that personal voluntary disclosure is essential in the fight against the spread of HIV infections.

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eISSN: 1813-2227